LeSean McCoy Has Huge Opportunity to Shine Against Miami Dolphins

LeSean McCoy
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 11: LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills in action against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 11, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Is LeSean McCoy beginning to show his age?

They say 30 years old is that magic number associated with decline among NFL running backs. There are exceptions to the rule, most notably Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson this season. But by and large, it’s fairly rare to see running backs in their 30s shouldering a heavy workload as part of an NFL rushing offense.

There is concern Shady may be hitting such a wall. 11 games into the 2018 season, he’s averaging 42.6 yards per game which is the lowest mark since his rookie year when he made just four starts. His 3.3 yards per carry, if it doesn’t improve, would be a career low. And with the exception of his first year in the league, McCoy registered multiple games of 100+ rushing yards each season. He currently has one such game in 2018.

It came in a 41-10 blowout of the New York Jets in Week 10. In that game, McCoy accumulated 113 rushing yards and found the end zone twice. He certainly rewarded fantasy owners who had the guts to start him after he accounted for 24 yards and no touchdowns over the previous three games. With five games remaining this year, it’ll be interesting to see whether that effort is part of a late-season trend or a singular aberration.

LeSean McCoy With a Huge Opportunity Against a Vulnerable Miami Dolphins Run Defense

His next chance to prove he’s got plenty left in the tank comes this coming Sunday when the Bills face Gore’s Miami Dolphins for the first time this season. There will be a lot on the line in South Florida when these two AFC East rivals face off. If the Bills triumph, they’ll supplant the Dolphins as the second place team in the division. And given the ease of their remaining schedule, a win might establish them as a team that’s “in the hunt” for the playoffs.

Establishing the run against the Dolphins is absolutely crucial. That becomes quite apparent when looking at the numbers. Miami is conceding 139.8 rushing yards per game which rank fourth-worst in the NFL. They also gave up one of the longest single runs of the year when Detroit Lions rookie Kerryon Johnson scampered for 71 yards in a game the Fins lost 32-21.

Advanced stats site Pro Football Focus allows you to look at player performance on an individual level. And there are indications of Miami’s struggles defending opposing running backs when looking at their data. Just three players on the Dolphins’ front seven are garnering a PFF run defense grade above 70 with the highest being interior defender Davon Godchaux (85.7).

It underscores the need for head coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to craft a game plan that unleashes McCoy. Having said that, McCoy must also bring his A-game. Yes, rookie Josh Allen has proven capable and, at times, electric when taking it himself on keepers. But you don’t want your quarterback leading the team in rushing touchdowns 11 games into the season. The actual running backs on the team need to step up, and it starts with McCoy.

One of the bigger challenges facing the 10-year veteran in this game is that he’ll likely see quite a few stacked boxes. With Allen still yet to eclipse 1,000 yards passing and Miami’s aforementioned issues defending the run, the Fins might be aggressive with personnel, especially on early downs. But if the Bills can stay on schedule and move the chains, it might open up play action. That’s something which has served Allen well, as Erik Turner discussed in a piece for Cover 1 this week.

After Sunday’s tilt at Hard Rock Stadium, the Bills have three of their final four games at home. All three appear winnable as well with Buffalo welcoming the Jets, Lions, and Dolphins to New Era Field. It makes 8-8 a very real possibility, a record once thought unassailable earlier in the year. But in order for it to happen, this weekend’s business trip must result in a W. More likely than not, it will involve McCoy handing father time an L for the time being.

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